Everyone who knew Sandra Vinnik called her Sandy. Invoking the informal was the way to relate to a woman cherished and idealized in our community. Mrs. Vinnik could have set herself high above us. Instead she preferred Sandy, intuiting that even this slight change would bring us closer to the humble person behind the praise. Untold hearts cried in disbelief when she left us on Sept. 2.
Sandy was born in what was once the major Western Jewish community of Cheyenne, Wyo. She graduated Cheyenne High in 1957 and briefly attended the University of Michigan. When she fell in love with Dr. Irwin Vinnik, it was the kind of love you never forget. They were married on June 9, 1957.
Two years after Dr. Vinniks death in 1987, Sandy memorialized him by establishing the Dr. Irwin E. Vinnik Fellowship for Advanced Study in Israel at DUs Center for Judaic Studies. The fellowship is now in its 26th year.
Sandys involvements spanned the Jewish and general communities. Her contributions, efforts and commitments fell like a spring rain: Center for Judaic Studies, Sister Cities International, Holocaust Awareness Institute, Mizel Museum, Welcome to Colorado, CAJE, Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society.
Sharing herself with numerous organizations was a natural offshoot of her generous nature. As one friend remembers, whenever anyone was ill, Sandy showed up at the house bearing food and comfort. Many describe her as an angel. You hear the word again and again. Yet Sandy Vinnik was flesh and blood and that made all the difference.
We offer condolences to her sons Stephen and Jonathan, brother Robert, grandchildren Max, Andrew and Mara, and her many, many friends.
Sandy Vinnik inspired us with her compassion, her concern, her friendliness. Healing will take time. But she would want us to move forward and make the world a better place sooner rather than later.
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